Atomic 212°’s Jason Dooris: “Why Is ‘White Labelling’ Such A Dirty Word In Our Industry?”

Atomic 212°’s Jason Dooris: “Why Is ‘White Labelling’ Such A Dirty Word In Our Industry?”
SHARE
THIS



In his latest B&T column, Atomic 212° supremo, Jason Dooris, takes a look at ‘white labelling’, or why so many agencies can’t/won’t/don’t outsource the tricky stuff…

My son recently asked me how to build a rocket. I wondered if at 11 he would think any less of me as a father for not knowing how to build one. I asked, “What kind of rocket?” He said, “One capable of exiting the Earth’s atmosphere and returning in one piece with a camera activated to film and distribute footage of re-entry into the atmosphere.” He likes to dream big, my son. Without a second thought, I responded: “Of course I can help!”

He smiled, looked at me with pride and said: “Dad, I knew you would know what to do.”

Screen Shot 2017-10-24 at 2.34.48 pm

Suddenly we were both happy. My son was confident in my ability to meet the demands of his brief while I was confident that I could find someone to build a rocket. After all, you can buy a rocket in a toy shop, put a man on the moon or a monkey on Venus. I tucked him into bed and muttered that we could discuss budget in the morning.

He had successfully outsourced his project, just as I would need to find partners to make his project a reality. Or is this better described as collaboration rather than outsourcing? Or matching his requirements with the most relevant skills? He slipped off to sleep dreaming of rockets and space, as did I.

This thought of collaboration, outsourcing or ‘white labelling’ has really stuck with me recently. Partly because of its contribution to the early growth of our business, whereby we bolstered our bottom line by handling a range of client briefs for third parties and other agencies. Partly because of its ongoing importance to our business – not only do we continue to service a range of blue chip clients in a white label capacity, we frequently outsource or collaborate with specialist agencies when our clients need niche skillsets (for instance, our recent projects across VR, AR and martech have all involved collaboration with specialist third parties).  But mainly because of the negativity attached to terms like white labelling or outsourcing in our industry.

Why are agencies so fearful of acknowledging their collaboration with specialist parties? To be fair, creative agencies have always recognised their collaborative model. But media agencies are generally stuck in a mindset where they have to pretend they do and own everything. There is a misguided conception that if you acknowledge you are collaborating with specialist partners, you are weak.

But in a time where technology dominates and drives consumer behaviour, where rapid change is the new norm, where large businesses have difficulty evolving rapidly, how can any one agency expect to have all the answers in all scenarios? If a client wants to push into unfamiliar territory, the smartest agencies work with a partner, they share and leverage their credentials as a demonstration of confidence and clarity in meeting this new client challenge – whether it’s building a rocket, constructing a complex mobile app or even something as simple as running a focus group.

Collaboration works for everybody. Most clients want a trusted advisor. They want to sell stuff, meet targets and have a pain-free, educational experience. They love collaboration, and enjoy those rare moments when agencies work well together. They will pay for strong results, and don’t care whether those results are achieved by a single agency or by a collaborative group. And if the work of a collaborative group is presented and branded under a single master agency, why would the client care, provided the master agency is accountable for the quality and the results, and provided any specialist partners are satisfied with the terms of their agency agreement.

Does this mean that we, as agencies, are the problem? Does this mean that our fear of words like collaboration and white labelling, or more accurately, our fear of being seen as a business that outsources, is holding us back? Almost certainly these questions should be answered in the affirmative. Fear is synonymous with fortresses, castles, weapons, blood, battle cries and a raft of other caricatures of inter-agency relations. Today these caricatures have been replaced with lawyers, non-disclosure agreements, threats and denials. They are guarded by account managers armed with protected P&Ls and agency-of-record service contracts.

Agencies that break this mould, who openly embrace collaboration and cross-selling, will emerge the winners in the long run. A perfect example of this is Dentsu’s Posterscope – the multinational agency group Dentsu has developed a best-in-class specialist model that services other agencies. They are pioneers of agency collaboration, but I’m certain some agencies would refuse to work with them (or would never admit to working with them) simply because they belong to a competitor multinational. This attitude is narrow-minded. Another strong example is Mat Baxter’s efforts with multinational giant UM on the local scene – while Mediabrands has an enormous array of services under its roof, Baxter’s UM clearly embraces and sources best practice, both internally and externally.

The reality is that white labelling and outsourcing are widespread, but rarely spoken about publicly by media agencies. It’s the industry’s dirty little secret, which shouldn’t really be dirty at all. Atomic 212°’s first experience with white labelling was when a top three global agency outsourced their weekly client and staff insight reports to our data team. This made sense for both parties, as search and data insights were ingrained in Atomic 212°’s DNA due to our origins in search marketing. Email, data, CRM, coding, forecasting, mobile, content, modelling, the list goes on – and with each of these specialist skillsets you can bet your bottom dollar there is usually an outsourcing relationship.

As an agency, we have been delighted to be exposed to briefs from some of the world’s most complex or renowned brands via white label arrangements. This was particularly the case in our formative years – as an independent agency it was rare for large multinational clients to approach a local independent agency directly. Through the oh-so-dirty practice of white labelling, we were exposed to opportunities from global giants like American Express, Nike, Atlassian and even an exciting Alibaba-funded initiative – in many cases these brands probably didn’t even know they were working with a local agency. Hopefully what they did know was that they got a better and improved business result, and that’s what counts. This same practice also gave us access to domestic giants like Coles, Origin Energy and Telstra. At the same time, our agency was exposed to a broader set of skills in an increasingly fragmented marketing landscape, which cemented our reputation, ability and effectiveness.

A more transparent, collaborative future is inevitable. With this evolution, there will of course be chinks. For instance, who will lay claim to the role of strategic lead or agency lead, or perhaps lead technology agency? Even the seemingly clear-cut area of agency billings is murkier in a world of outsourcing and subcontracting – when three or four businesses are contributing to the same service, shouldn’t they all be able to claim the billings? Does it even matter, particularly when you consider that billings are no true measure of an agency’s health? Another example – in a white labelling landscape, who should take credit in awards entries? Could a media agency who uses Google Analytics rightfully claim an award which they could not have won without the systems, tools and strategic input of Google? This is particularly relevant in a landscape where ‘media owners’ are increasingly acting like agencies in their own right.

Chinks aside, this is a future that agencies and marketeers alike need to embrace. Most of us already do it, but it’s past time we started talking about it. This evolution has truly gathered pace in the past twelve months, which is exciting. If agencies are more open to collaboration, we really can build that rocket.

Please login with linkedin to comment

Atomic 212 Jason Dooris

Latest News

Digital Breadcrumbs: Picking Up The Pieces Your Competitors Leave Online
  • Opinion

Digital Breadcrumbs: Picking Up The Pieces Your Competitors Leave Online

In this guest column, Meltwater’s area director, David Hickey (pictured below), says a quick glance at the mountains of data your competitors are producing can fast prove a boon for your business too… It’s time for businesses to start paying attention and embrace the new digital reality we’re living in. We are currently in the […]

Opinion

by David Hickey

David Hickey
“The Rock” Leads a Flotilla Of Athletes In Huge Under Armour Campaign
  • Campaigns

“The Rock” Leads a Flotilla Of Athletes In Huge Under Armour Campaign

US sportswear giant Under Armour has enlisted Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to front a series of inspirational new ads featuring a host of sport stars and fitness icons. Created by Droga 5 the campaign is called “Will finds a way” and includes eight ads in all. Johnson aside, the spots include actress and martial arts star, Zoe Zhang. Fellow […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify during a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee joint hearing about Facebook on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, April 10, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB        (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Media

Free TV Calls For ACCC Oversight Of Facebook & Google

In a submission lodged with the ACCC inquiry into digital platforms, industry body Free TV today called for greater regulatory oversight of Facebook and Google. The FreeTV submission identifies a number of key areas of concern: Heavy regulation on traditional media providers and almost none on Facebook and Google Questionable claims about the reach, viewability, […]

APN Outdoor Confirms Retention Of Three Key Contracts
  • Media

APN Outdoor Confirms Retention Of Three Key Contracts

APN Outdoor has used its annual general meeting to announce three key contract renewals: Transport for Brisbane, Transdev Melbourne and Adelaide & Parafield Airports, for multiple years. Company CEO and managing director, James Warburton, said: “These contracts represent an important part of our advertising offering. The far-reaching impact they provide delivers a compelling proposition and cements our commitment […]

Women In Media Profile: Olivia Warren
  • Media

Women In Media Profile: Olivia Warren

It's the latest in our Women In Media profiles, and this one is so good you'll possibly get a nervous twitch somewhere.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
LIDA Delivers Series Of Animated Info Bites For Busy Marketers
  • Marketing
  • Media

LIDA Delivers Series Of Animated Info Bites For Busy Marketers

M&C Saatchi Group’s customer engagement specialist agency, LIDA, has crafted an initial eight-episode series of bite-sized animated videos designed to help busy marketers stay ahead of the game. ‘60 Second Gets’ draws on LIDA’s wealth of experience to unpack the latest industry tools, tech and thinking. Launching today, the first video, ‘Success in 6 Seconds’, […]

Naked And Gidget Foundation Want Australians To Start Talking
  • Campaigns

Naked And Gidget Foundation Want Australians To Start Talking

Today Naked launches its ‘Start Talking’ campaign for Gidget Foundation Australia; a not-for-profit that provides support for families who are affected by perinatal depression and anxiety (PNDA). The centrepiece of the campaign is a powerful TVC that brings to life this common, but often hidden illness, and shows how Gidget Foundation’s ‘Start Talking’ telehealth program […]

MKTG Integrates Telstra Tracker Data With LED Signage At AFL Stadiums
  • Marketing
  • Technology

MKTG Integrates Telstra Tracker Data With LED Signage At AFL Stadiums

For the first time ever, AFL spectators will be able to view real-time Telstra Tracker player data via in-stadium LED signage, thanks to the combined efforts of Telstra, Champion Data and MKTG. By integrating the Telstra Tracker data into the LED signage at the MCG and Etihad Stadium, fans will receive contextually relevant information from […]

Westfield Shows Off New Visual Identity In Line With Fresh Digital Offering
  • Marketing

Westfield Shows Off New Visual Identity In Line With Fresh Digital Offering

Scentre Group has unveiled a new brand look and feel coinciding with the re-launch of the Westfield.com.au and Westfield.co.nz sites. This digital-first visual identity sees a shift towards creating a more contemporary, invigorated and colourful brand, reflective of Westfield’s in-centre experience. The iconic Westfield logo will continue to lead brand communications, supported with a new […]

The Age Of The Ephemeral: Why Experiential Marketing Is Compulsory This Year
  • Marketing
  • Opinion

The Age Of The Ephemeral: Why Experiential Marketing Is Compulsory This Year

In this guest post, Keep Left’s head of consumer engagement, Johanna Murray (pictured below), explains the merits of experiential marketing, as well as sharing some tips on how to do it – and do it well. Humans love to label things – especially intangible things, like time. We like eras and ages and eons because they […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
The Top Social Media Marketing Trends For 2018
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Technology

The Top Social Media Marketing Trends For 2018

This trends report is a must-read for all marketers, although it contains no news on the return of the bubble perm.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
How To Give And Take Feedback At Work
  • Opinion

How To Give And Take Feedback At Work

Georgia Murch (pictured below) is an expert in creating feedback cultures and author of Feedback Flow; The Ultimate Illustrated Guide to Embed Change in 90 Days. In this guest post, Murch offers her tips on giving (and receiving) feedback from colleagues without botching it up… We all know that feedback matters.  Most of us want the good, the bad and the […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Dentsu X Expands Operations To Sydney
  • Advertising
  • Media

Dentsu X Expands Operations To Sydney

Have you completely forgotten what Sydney looks like? Well, thankfully this story comes with a handy pictorial reminder.

SBS Radio Introduces Three 24-Hour Digital Radio Stations On Digital TV
  • Media

SBS Radio Introduces Three 24-Hour Digital Radio Stations On Digital TV

SBS Radio has announced two new digital radio stations – SBS PopAsia, SBS PopDesi and a refresh of SBS Radio 3 – is now available on digital TV. SBS Radio 3 will broadcast world news and current affairs from the BBC World Service (previously airing on SBS Radio 4 on digital radio) and special events […]

Aussies Invited To ‘Money With Sunny’ In New Suncorp Campaign
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns

Aussies Invited To ‘Money With Sunny’ In New Suncorp Campaign

At a time when more than two thirds of Australians are feeling confused and concerned about their finances, Suncorp has unveiled a new creative platform focused on making the complex simple. In a move that expands the brand beyond the sunshine state, Suncorp’s strategic approach is all about helping Australians focus on what they do […]

Champion Launches Music Platform Championing Emerging Aussie Artists Via Emotive
  • Campaigns
  • Marketing

Champion Launches Music Platform Championing Emerging Aussie Artists Via Emotive

For its first Australian campaign, Champion has partnered with creative and content agency Emotive to launch a music program titled ‘Revealed’. The program champions emerging Australian artists by intimately telling their story through video, and providing funding and creative support to create world class music videos for new release music. The first Revealed artist is […]

Finalists (And Host) Announced For Siren Awards 2018
  • Media

Finalists (And Host) Announced For Siren Awards 2018

Finalists for the best radio ad for 2018 have been announced, with 10 of Australia’s leading agencies from Sydney, Melbourne and Perth competing for the coveted Gold Siren. The finalists include The Monkeys, Clemenger BBDO, Marketforce, J. Walter Thompson, Ogilvy, BMF, McCann, YR, Fenton Stephens, and The Brand Agency. One half of last year’s winning […]

Delacon Launches Call Analytics In India
  • Marketing

Delacon Launches Call Analytics In India

Australian-owned call analytics provider Delacon has continued its international expansion, opening an innovation centre in India to service local and global partners, and develop the next generation of call tracking and analytics solutions. The office in Chennai is the eighth for the Sydney-headquartered business, which enables brands and agencies to optimise marketing campaigns by accurately […]

Protein To Handle Retail Roll-Out Of Recycling Initiative Return-It
  • Marketing

Protein To Handle Retail Roll-Out Of Recycling Initiative Return-It

Sydney brand and digital agency Protein has been appointed to handle the retail and digital roll-out of recycling company Return-It, which has just been announced as the container collection network for the ACT. Return-It awarded the work to the 17-year strong agency, following Protein’s tender support and brand development of the retail concept. The public-facing […]

Why We Need To Talk More About Failure
  • Opinion

Why We Need To Talk More About Failure

This is an excellent article about celebrating failure. Although, admittedly, we failed to get to the very end of it.

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Women In Media Profile: Kimmie Neidhardt
  • Media

Women In Media Profile: Kimmie Neidhardt

Kimmie Neidhardt doesn't just have a very cool name, as you'll read here. There's a good head on those shoulders, too.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
SCA Promotes Nathan Soulsby To Head Of TV Sales For Sydney
  • Advertising
  • Media

SCA Promotes Nathan Soulsby To Head Of TV Sales For Sydney

Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) has announced the promotion of Nathan Soulsby to head of TV sales for Sydney. The announcement comes after Kristen Budd’s move to general manager of SCA’s Central Coast office. Caretaking the role during Budd’s maternity leave, Soulsby has been a key contributor to the consistent share and revenue growth that has […]

Columbus, A Merkle Company Announces Client Wins & Senior Appointments
  • Marketing

Columbus, A Merkle Company Announces Client Wins & Senior Appointments

Following the launch of Merkle in the Australian market in March, Columbus, a Merkle Company has secured nine new clients in three months, including Macquarie University, Event Hospitality & Entertainment Limited and Hipages. Columbus has also appointed two group business directors in the Victorian market, with Leonie Dawkins (pictured above, left) and Guy McGechan (pictured […]

Black woman in handcuffs
  • Media

Adland Industry Leaders To Be Locked Up In Prison To Help Aussie Youth

Over sixty senior leaders from the media, marketing, tech and creative industry will spend the night in jail as part of UnLtd’s Adland Bail Out, to raise funds for Whitelion. The ‘inmates’ will be handing over their mobile phones and putting on their prison overalls to brave a night in the chilling cells of Yasmar […]

JCDecaux Partners With Seedooh To Verify OOH Campaigns
  • Advertising
  • Media

JCDecaux Partners With Seedooh To Verify OOH Campaigns

Global out-of-home (OOH) advertising giant JCDecaux has announced a partnership with independent tech platform Seedooh to offer advertisers greater transparency for campaigns. Under the agreement, Seedooh’s reporting and verification platform will be integrated into JCDecaux’s system to create an independent campaign delivery reporting function that works seamlessly within the end-to-end campaign delivery processes. It will […]

Innovation: The Foundation Of Marketing & Sales Collaboration
  • Marketing
  • Opinion

Innovation: The Foundation Of Marketing & Sales Collaboration

In this opinion piece, Seismic’s managing director for Australia and New Zealand, Andy Pattinson (pictured below), explains how marketers can work smarter and why collaboration is vital in delivering return on investment. Demand for marketing roles is growing, as marketers continue to learn more about what customers want. The marketing agenda is increasingly being tied in […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Roll’d Enlists Impress!ve Digital Ahead Of Franchise & Catering Push
  • Marketing

Roll’d Enlists Impress!ve Digital Ahead Of Franchise & Catering Push

Aussie food franchise Roll’d has announced it has signed on Melbourne digital marketing agency Impress!ve Digital to support its digital marketing. The partnership has already begun, with Impress!ve Digital aiming to significantly boost the company’s revenue through digital marketing strategies that are directly linked to return on investment and franchise acquisition. Impress!ve Digital has been […]

Yippee! More Photos from the 30 Under 30 Awards!
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Media
  • Technology

Yippee! More Photos from the 30 Under 30 Awards!

If you think B&T simply runs these photo gallery stories so you can gawk at young, attractive people, you'd be right.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine